Staunton, December 24 – Since Aleksandr Ostrovsky introduced the Snow Maiden in 1873, she has been among the most popular Russian figure associated with the New Year’s holiday and has undergone a remarkable evolution “from the innocent companion of Father Frost to a sexually aggressive figure in erotic films,” the Culturology blog says.
In Ostrovsky’s story, the Snow Maidan was presented not as the granddaughter of Father Frost but as his helpmate, a portrayal that meant she varied widely in age and style. Sometimes she was very young and at others much older; and sometimes she was shown as a peasant girl but at others as the Snow Queen (kulturologia.ru/blogs/020116/27844/).
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the Snow Maidan was pictured by some of Russia’s most prominent artists and stage designers, and the Culturology portal provides reproductions of many of the most famous of these portrayals, some of which still define how Russians view this figure.
But the contemporary image of the Snow Maidan arose in 1935 when Stalin decided to allow Russians to celebrate New Year’s, a holiday that the Bolsheviks up to then had viewed as “a bourgeois survival of the past.” As part of that holiday, the Snow Maiden was recognized as an official symbol. And she was joined forever as a partner with Father Frost.
That did not end the evolution of her portrayal, however. First with cartoons and then in films, she was “modernized.” And then “beginning in the 2000s,” she began to be “exploited in erotic photo-sessions and adult films,” in which she was completely detached from her origins and reduced to a subject of “erotic fantasies.”
Despite that, the earlier image remains the one most Russians think of, a unique symbol of purity and renewal.